Ahead of USGP
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen was the second quickest rider on race tyres around the 3,610m Laguna Seca circuit during today's qualifying practice session, in readiness for tomorrow's American Grand Prix.
Vermeulen (P8, 1'21.971, 34 laps)
was one of only two riders to lap the circuit in the 1'21s on race tyres – pole setter Casey Stoner being the other - and looks to be in good shape ahead of tomorrow's 32-lap race. He was unable to repeat his blistering pace on qualifying tyres and will start from eighth on the grid, but he is confident of a good start and chasing for his second successive US podium tomorrow.
Loris Capirossi (P11, 1'22.039, 30 laps) showed a very strong performance on race tyres during both sessions today and moved into the top-five during the qualifying. He struggled to get the most out of his machine on the qualifiers due the injury to his arm restricting his movement, but promises to give it everything he can in pursuit of a good result tomorrow.
Wildcard rider Ben Spies (P13, 1'22.127, 30 laps) was using qualifying tyres for the first time in two years – it rained at Donington in the qualifying session – and adapted to the extra grip well. He produced a lap within half-a-second of fourth place on the grid, but due to the amazingly close times he will start from the fifth row in 13th place.
Tomorrow's race is round 11 of the season and the action will get underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT), with all three riders looking to improve on their qualifying berths and bring their respective Rizla Suzuki GSV-Rs home in high-placed finishes.
“Today went a lot better than yesterday and the steps we took worked quite well.
We did some longer runs on race tyres and produced some good lap times. The times were a lot closer to Casey today and hopefully we can do that again tomorrow. The qualifiers just didn't seem to work for me today and I couldn't go any quicker on them than I did on the race rubber. It sucks starting from eighth position but if I can get a good first couple of laps, I know we can still fight for a podium!”
“It would not be good to say I am happy today because in qualifying we struggled a bit, but we certainly did improve the bike in race set-up. We went a lot better on race tyres and I was in the top-five. The whole team has done a great job to find a good setting and we are confident that we have a good rhythm for tomorrow. Like I said yesterday, this track is not so easy with my arm, but I will certainly be giving it my best tomorrow and I think it will be a really interesting race and we could be right up there!”
“It went good today overall, I haven't used qualifiers for a couple of years now and if I could have found a few more tenths I would have been a lot further forward, but I got blocked on a couple of my qualifying laps and made a mistake on my last one. It should be good for the race tomorrow as we've figured a few things out with the bike and we got down to a good time on the race tyres. The race set-up is certainly getting better and better and I am getting more comfortable on the bike every time I ride it, and I think I can get it in the top-10 tomorrow!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The three guys made a huge effort this afternoon. Ben got used to the qualifying tyres very quickly, Loris overcame the injury and pushed to the maximum and Chris showed that on race tyres he was easily the second quickest. Unfortunately – as has sometimes been the case this year – Chris couldn't make the qualifiers work for him. Again, when they are first and second on the grid there is nothing bad about the tyres but there is just something between the match of rider, bike and qualifier that isn't quite working for Chris. We will certainly have to work on that in the Brno test. The good thing is that he is absolutely fine on race tyres and I'm sure he'll show a lot of fight tomorrow and challenge for the podium. “Loris and Ben have a bit of an uphill battle from the fourth and fifth rows respectively, this is all the more frustrating when two-tenths of a second would have put Loris fifth on the grid. It is so close from fifth backwards and I'm sure both the guys will be giving everything they've got over 32 laps tomorrow to do the team and themselves proud.”